The modern political period is recognizable to us and yet also distant. Its increasing – if contested – acceptance of democracy as the best mode of government and its solutions to the dangers of democracy inform our beliefs today. Yet, its characteristic belief in progress and the inevitable, stadial, movement of history is less acceptable to us, as is its belief that democracy is compatible with colonialism and palpably differing gender roles. This course will look at the modern political period and its wrestling with democratic ideals through the lenses of four political traditions: liberalism, socialism, romanticism, and radical historicism. We will look at these traditions’ views on what it means to be fully a human being and the modes of government that are most compatible with these conceptions. In particular, we will ask what these traditions had to say about colonialism and gender equality. Ending the course with Nietzsche’s contestation of the stadial view of history, we will make a prelude to our own far less historical century.